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Second try at 'millionaire's tax' advances in Legislature

New revenue stream aims to fund transportation, education

real estate taxes 200

During a constitutional convention, Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) joined their colleagues in voting to begin the process of amending the Massachusetts Constitution to place an additional 4-percent tax on annual taxable income in excess of $1 million.

The revenue generated – as much as $2.2 billion annually, according to the Department of Revenue – would fund repair and maintenance projects for roads, bridges and public transportation as well as for public education.

“The revenue raised by the Fair Share Amendment will allow our Commonwealth to make much-needed investments in public transportation and public education,” Friedman said in a June 14 news release. “There is widespread public agreement that this initiative is the most effective and fair way to increase funding for our public schools, make higher education more affordable, and improve our crumbling transportation infrastructure. I was proud to work with my colleagues to move this important amendment to the next stage of the process.”

Rep. Rogers said in the release: “We live in one of the wealthiest states, in what remains the wealthiest country in the world. And yet, we are failing to address a fundamental issue that is critical to our continued vitality – namely, properly funding our educational system and our transportation infrastructure. The Fair Share Amendment will allow us to do so.”

Rep. Garballey added: “With recent train derailments, roads and bridges in a state of disrepair, the Commonwealth’s roads being constantly congested, and underfunded schools, we must find progressive ways to invest and improve in infrastructure and our schools.”

The taxable income level would be adjusted annually to reflect any increases in the cost of living by the same method used for federal income tax brackets. This would ensure that, over time, the additional 4-percent tax would continue to apply only to the highest earning individuals in the Commonwealth. The tax would apply to all tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2023.

The Legislature must approve a constitutional amendment in two consecutive joint sessions, which occur during each two-year legislative session, before the question appears on the ballot for voter consideration. If approved, the amendment would go before voters in 2022.

'Do-over' by Raise Up Mass.

A report about the vote on called the current process, “ in effect, a do-over of the last three-year battle over the 'millionaire’s tax.'” That ended in 2018, when the proposed constitutional amendment was struck down by the Supreme Judicial Court before it went on the ballot.

“We’re like junkyard dogs. We don’t give up. We are back,” said Lew Finfer, an organizer with Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition of labor, religious and community groups pushing for the amendment.

The vote was 147-48. The vote was mostly along party lines, with Democrats supporting the amendment and Republicans opposing it.

In the House, 10 Democrats broke with their party and voted against the amendment, including Western Massachusetts Reps. John Velis of Westfield, Angelo Puppolo of Springfield, Thomas Petrolati of Ludlow, Brian Ashe of Longmeadow, and Michael Finn of West Springfield. In the Senate, Republican Patrick O’Connor of Weymouth broke with his party to vote for the amendment.

This news announcement with an added report was published Friday, June 14, 2019.

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